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Weekend Series on Crime History: The Story of the Ronald Reagan Shooting

Feds Won’t Charge John W. Hinckley With Murder in James Brady’s Death

John Hinckley Jr. -abc news photo

By Peter Hermann
Washington Post Staff Writer

Federal prosecutors said they will not charge John W. Hinckley Jr. with murder in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary in a 1981 assassination attempt, even though a medical examiner concluded his August death was caused by the old wounds.

The decision, announced Friday by the U.S. Attorney for the District, comes four months after the coroner decided that James S. Brady’s death at the age of 73 was caused by bullets fired 34 years ago outside the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue Northwest. Reagan, just 69 days into his presidency, was severely wounded. Brady was struck first, above the left eye, and the bullet shattered in his head into fragments.

“The decision was made following a review of applicable law, the history of the case, and the circumstances of Mr. Brady’s death, including recently finalized autopsy findings,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

To read more click here. 

 

Man Claims Threats to Media Following Sony Hack Was ‘Fake’ And He Was ‘Messing Around’

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A threat to the news media following the Sony hack may have been a hoax from a tweeter who was just “messing around,” ABC News reports.

The FBI and Homeland Security believed the threat was credible enough to include it in a join intelligence bulletin last week to law enforcement agencies.

The bulletin alleges the suspected Sony hackers, known as the Guardians of Peace, also threatened the news media for covering the hack.

But the FBI has backed off after a man from Tennessee said on Twitter that the threat was “fake” and that he was “just messing around.”

The FBI defended its decision to issue a bulletin about the threat that  wasn’t corroborated.

“As part of our commitment to public safety, the FBI routinely shares information with the private sector and law enforcement community,” an FBI spokesman said in a statement. “We take all threats seriously and will continue to disseminate relevant information observed during the course of our investigations, in order to help protect the public against any potential threats.”

 

Border Patrol Agents Are Getting Attacked Fewer Times Than Previous Years

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Assaults against Border Patrol agents dropped for the sixth year in a row in fiscal 2014, the Arizona Republic reports.

The agency recorded 373 assaults against agents, a 20% decline over 2013. Of those, 366 occurred along the Southwest border.

That represents a two-thirds drop since fiscal 2008.

Although CPB has broken down the types of assaults in the past, it hadn’t by the Republic’s deadline.

Despite the drop in attacks, agents still feel more vulnerable to attack.

“Agents out there are saying that the people we arrest are less likely to listen to verbal commands,” said Art Del Cueto, president of the Tucson local of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing agents. “They tend to want to run more, to push back against the agent, to be verbally aggressive.”

FBI Assists Investigation into Disappearance of 43 College Students in Mexico

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com  

The FBI is beginning to help investigate the disappearance of 43 college students in Mexico, even as evidence recently surfaced that the country’s government may have been involved in rounding up the young people, NBC News reports.

The students, who were training to be teachers, vanished on Sept. 26 after protesting for more funds.

American scientists are helping analyze DNA evidence to determine whether bodies found in a mass grave in October are those of the missing students.

Prosecutors alleges that local officials were behind the disappearance. Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and dozen of local officials have been jailed, accused of turning the students over to a local drug cartel, Guerreros Unidos, which grows opium poppies for heroin that is shipped to the U.S.

Investigative reporter Anabel Hernandez believes the Mexican government played a significant role in the disappearance.

“The government knew exactly what was happening,” she said, citing documents and cell phone videos that revealed the presence of federal police during the disappearance.

The Mexican government has denied any involvement.

Boston Globe Editorial: Border Patrol Needs to Be Reigned In to Keep Its Focus

By Editorial Board 
Boston Globe

Most Americans have a pretty firm idea of where the borders of the United States lie. But most are unaware that the federal government has an entirely different — and alarmingly far-reaching — definition of the nation’s boundaries when it comes to immigration enforcement. In fact, Customs and Border Protection agents have the authority to stop and conduct searches on vehicles within 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States, including the coast.

For a while now, this 100-mile rule has been the focus of the American Civil Liberties Union — for good reason. Consider this: Nearly two out of three Americans (or close to 200 million people) live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders, according to the US Census. The ACLU claims border patrol agents routinely violate the rights of innocent people, sometimes acting like this 100-mile zone is Constitution-free. This practice is problematic on many levels, and should be discontinued.

Primarily, “pushing the border in” for 100 miles inland creates a waste of resources: The government agency in charge of enforcing immigration in the country’s interior is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. Empowering border agents to operate in the 100-mile zone diverts them from doing their job at the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders.

Even more alarming are the potential consequences of this 100-mile zone rule in light of the newly released policy guidelines regarding the use of profiling by federal law enforcement agents. The Department of Justice announced that, while profiling on the basis of race was already illegal for most federal agents when deciding whether to investigate someone, they will no longer be allowed to consider religion, national origin, gender and gender identity, or sexual orientation. The rule doesn’t cover local or state police departments, and it alsoexempts border agents. This generous exclusion — which Attorney General Eric Holder was opposed to, but was overruled by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security — means that border officials will still be allowed to use profiling when conduct screening and inspection activities near the border.

To read more click here.

DEA Investigator Received Sexual Favors in Exchange for Bogus Offers of Reduced Sentences

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Federal methamphetamine cases against 11 people may be in limbo after a DEA investigator in Roanoke, Va., admitted he received sexual favors in exchange for bogus offers of reduced sentences, WDBJ 7 reports

Kevin Moore admitted the offenses two weeks ago, and now many of the cases have been delayed to determine how to proceed next.

Some of the defendants were awaiting sentencing, while ethers were headed to a jury trial next year.

So far, investigators said they don’t have any evidence that Moore mishandled the 11 cases.

Other Stories of Interest


Parker: The Bicentennial of U. S, Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

If you run into Barb McQuade, the U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan some time in 2015, congratulate her for her Office’s milestone. This year marks the Bicentennial of the appointment of the first USA in Michigan Territory, Solomon Sibley in 1815. This makes the USAO the oldest law enforcement agency in the state.

Before there was a federal district court, a police force, any federal criminal investigative agency, or even the State of Michigan, there was a U.S. Attorney’s Office. Of course the log cabin where Sibley represented the federal government’s interests, among his other legal clients, is hardly recognizable as a USAO by today’s standards. He had a desk, a supply of quill pens, some ancient English law books, and a fireplace to get him through those rugged winters.

For his federal cases he was paid $5 per court day. Transportation was by horseback, mostly on Indian trails. There were few roads. Communication with Washington was slow and erratic. It took about two months to receive letters sent to the rustic village of Detroit. Since the Justice Department would not be created for 55 years, Sibley and his successors had limited support or guidance from the Capitol.

It is difficult to appreciate the uncertainties surrounding law and the judicial system in those early years when the infant nation was struggling to exist. Translating the rule of law and the concept of justice into the hard scrabble everyday lives of the settlers was an uncharted course. Even after determining a rough idea of what the law was supposed to be, the conflict between policy and practice was particularly challenging in Michigan because of its history of occupation by the Indian tribes, the French, the British, and then the American settlers whose heritage was from many different countries. Due process developed case by case involving people of widely diverse cultural backgrounds, people who had very different ideas about what the law was and how it should be applied in particular situations on the frontier.

Civil cases included collecting debts owed to the federal government, sorting out the chaotic French land grants and estates and interpreting Army supply contracts. The first case involved a forfeiture action against a shipment of lumber which had been smuggled into the Detroit port to avoid payment of duty.

Criminal cases involved charges of counterfeiting, receiving stolen goods and larceny, and starting a riot. The early USAs were practical men. When there were not enough grand jurors to make a quorum, they simply sent the U.S, Marshal out to round up some bystanders.

Sibley and the other USAs started out with the elementary principle that this would be a government of laws and not men. The rights and liabilities of the citizenry were given life incrementally by the resolution of disputes about the application of law, not the exercise of discretion by the powerful. However imperfect at times, the process slowly evolved into the due process system we enjoy today.

No law enforcement institution is perfect. There have been cases lost and prosecutions unsuccessful. But the USAO EDMI has been remarkably free of impropriety. Of course there was that attempt by USA Daniel LeRoy in 1828 to resign in exchange for half of a successor’s $250 annual salary. But the USAO soldiered on through the challenges of the Civil War and its aftermath of crime, the explosive expansion of the federal government near the end of the 19th and throughout the 20th Centuries, the failed social experiment of Prohibition with its court congestion, crime and corruption.

Like the rest of America it was a white male institution with no women or African American attorneys until the late 1940s. Appointments of Assistants was a political process into the 1960s with each new administration brooming out the AUSAs to make room for new appointees, who then started from scratch to build an experience level to cope with a burgeoning caseload.

But somehow the legacies and progress continued despite these counter-productive practices. As Justice Cardozo noted a century ago, justice is a concept that is never finished but which reproduces itself generation after generation in ever changing forms.

So happy birthday to my former colleagues and staff in the USAO. Your work is important to that process of rebirth and toward a system which protects every person’s right to a fair day in court.

If your computer is freezing up and a federal judge has been tough on you on a particular day, remember it could be worse. You could be putting your briefs in a saddlebag and trudging through the snow on an Indian trail to get to court instead of scampering across Fort Street.